Scientists removed 98 s0-called “murder hornets” from a nest in Washington State Saturday, the Department of Agriculture said, according to the Associated Press.
13 of the hornets were captured live with a net, and the others were vacuumed out of the nest into a special container, the Associated Press reported. The nest, which was discovered last week near the Canadian border, is the first to be discovered in the United States. (RELATED: Scientists Discover First ‘Murder Hornets’ Nest In America By Using Tiny Trackers And Dental Floss)
Managing entomologist Sven Spichiger said that the destruction of the nest “went very smoothly,” according to the report.
“This is only the start of our work to hopefully prevent the Asian giant hornet from gaining a foothold in the Pacific Northwest,” Spichiger said. “We suspect there may be more nests in Whatcom County.”
A team began working at 5:30 AM Saturday. They began by putting scaffolding around the tree in order to reach the nest, which was about 10 feet off the ground. The areas above and below the nest were stuffed with a dense foam, and the tree was wrapped with cellophane. The team members then inserted a vacuum into an opening that was left in the cellophane and removed the hornets. In order to get the hornets to leave the nest, team members hit the tree with a piece of wood.
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Team members pumped carbon dioxide into the tree once the hornets stopped coming out in order to kill any remaining hornets. The tree was then sealed with foam and wrapped with cellophane, and the team placed traps nearby to catch any hornets that may have survived. They finished around 9:00 AM, the Associated Press reported.
Osama El-Lissy, Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Plant Protection and Quarantine program, congratulated the Washington State Department of Agriculture for eliminating the nest.
“Thanks to their expertise and innovation, this nest is no longer a threat to honey bees in the area,” El-Lissy said.
The Washington State Department of Agriculture plans to set traps until at least November to catch any Asian giant hornets that are still in the area.
Last week, scientists discovered the first murder hornet nest in the United States by using dental floss and tiny radio trackers. The giant hornets, which are native to Asian countries, are an invasive species that deliver excruciatingly painful stings to humans. They are a threat to local honeybee populations, which farmers depend on to pollinate certain crops.
Scientists had been searching for the nest since the first hornets were captured in July. Murder hornets were sighted in the United States for the first time in December 2019.